Snorkeling the Hol Chan reef

Trip Start Jun 20, 2010
Trip End Jul 30, 2010

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Flag of Belize  , Belize Cayes,
Monday, June 21, 2010

What an amazing day we had today, waking up at 5:30 am ready to start the day, breakfast on the beach before booking our full day (yes Nick in the sun for a full day! eeee!) snorkeling tour. Raggamuffin Tours took us on an eventful sun-filled day on a wicked sailboat guided by the creole character; Captain Jermaine. We made three stops throughout the day, the first just off the northern coast of Caye Caulker in the Coral Gardens, where we spotted a single lazy manatee floating in the water. The most peaceful, beautiful creature, rolling on its side, putting on a show for us. At this stop we also caught a glimpse of some tropical fish, a sea turtle and Nick even quickly caught sight of a Reef shark (while I was off doing who knows what, probably peeing in the water) but only for a second before it was gone.
Jermaine provided much entertainment for us, blasting Reggae music (oddly enough, several Phil Collins!) and singing at the top of his lungs.
Our next stop was Shark and Stingray Alley (Long awaited by Nick!) a world famous marine wildlife reserve. At first, I'll admit I was a little nervous before getting in the water, just seeing all the nurse sharks swimming around the boat ranging in size from 3 feet to 10 feet made us a wee bit nervous. However Nick wants me to add that he was in fact the first person in the water...I didn't see it, but okay ;). Jermaine reassured us that as long as we didn't touch the talons on the end of the shark and rays' tails we would be just fine, and that we could touch their backs all we wanted. So off we went into shark and stingray infested waters ( I know that they only have suction cups for teeth and couldn't bit us if they tried, but I have been wanting to write that last bit for a while! lol) .First we collected conch shells so that Jermaine could put sardines inside for the sharks and rays to suck out and keep them around the boat for longer. Then our mission was to swim down and touch a stingray for ourselves. Nick was a little hesitant but quickly overcame his fear and swam down and got a feel for himself. There had to have been several hundred yellow-tailed snappers and dozens of nurse sharks and stingrays all around us. A crazy feeling, one we wont soon forget and a definite highlight of the trip.
After shark and stingray alley we were served fruit and chicken burgers on the boat while we sailed to our final stop, Hol Chan Marine Reserve (Maya for " Narrow Channel") . There we were split into two groups and taken on a guided tour of the reef bellow where each type of fish and interesting coral was pointed out to us. We saw several spotted eagle rays, a few sea turtles, 45lb black groupers, barracudas, several types of snapper, poisonous coral and an underwater cave. By the end of the day we were water logged, I was ROASTED and ready to sit back and relax lounging on the boat deck for the trip home.
    When we arrived home after a few rum punches on the boat we decided to head back over to our new favorite bar the Lazy Lizard for a beer and a dip in the 'split'. It was then that we were really able to survey the damage ( meaning my body) from the days activities and found that no surprise I was a tomato and was starting to feel pretty sun stroked. Nick of course was smart and stuck to the shade and wore a t-shirt while I basked my white-ass on the deck all day (I did wear sunscreen however, but to no avail!)
Before being lathered in aloe vera we headed to Rosa's Grill for an amazing meal of shrimp kebabs and garlic bread, cooked right in front of us.
Now I have been soaked in aloe, we both have full stomachs and a splitting headache, but don't regret a single second of the day in Belize we will never forget!

Nick and Heather
p.s we are going to summarize our travel journal from now on...phewww!

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